What’s being billed as Floyd Mayweather’s farewell from competitive boxing, a September 12 clash with journeyman Andre Berto, a pairing the Guardian’s Bryan Armen Graham argues, “will further water down a legacy that was already in question,” (“in no other sport would this be tolerated, let alone a matter of routine”) :
Years ago Berto held a version of the welterweight title, but he’s 3-3 in his last six bouts, no longer a name or a threat. Two summers ago he was knocked out by a gatekeeper named Jesús Soto Karass. Berto failed that test, suffering a torn shoulder tendon in the process, and has done nothing in the 25 months since to indicate he belongs in the same sentence with a fighter of Mayweather’s caliber. The MGM Grand sports book, which installed Mayweather as a 50-1 favorite, longer odds than Buster Douglas’s 42-1 price against Mike Tyson, seems to agree.
It’s not as if there were no credible opponents available. Forget Gennady Golovkin, the heavy-handed Kazakh one division up and Mayweather’s only plausible challenger for pound-for-pound supremacy. Keith Thurman or Timothy Bradley each hold welterweight belts, and would have made for entertaining unification bouts.An even more obvious choice would have been Amir Khan, who has twice essentially put his career on hold in pursuit of a fight with Mayweather that would do massive business on both sides of the pond, and who once again has been left at the altar.
Not even Mayweather’s most ardent supporters can argue he’s tested his limits in ways consistent with the greatest champions. Sugar Ray Leonard would have fought Manny Pacquiao three times by now. Who can imagine where Mayweather might have pushed himself if he’d lost the first José Luis Castillo fight back in 2001 and not felt the pressure to protect the zero in his loss ledger?